COFFEE export earnings are expected to reach record highs this year, according to Coffee Industry Corp chief executive Ricky Mitio.
With favourable weather conditions that the country experienced in the past months and the recommitment by farmers to revive the once aging industry, Mr Mitio is confident export earnings at the end of this year should exceed the K500 million record mark set last year.
In a statement released last week, Mr Mitio said coffee production had steadily improved since the drastic drop in 2006 as a result of changing weather patterns.
“It is not declining, coffee production has been improving since the drastic drop in 2006 due to physiological stress caused by climate change,” he stressed.
What are needed to ensure that the industry continues to thrive, however, are joint efforts and resource mobilisation amongst stakeholders to tap into lucrative speciality markets to achieve value added income, Mr Mitio said.
But while PNG coffee is rated amongst the top five best quality coffees in the world, the country is too small a producer to affect the global market and its ranking has no material impact on global trade.
According to Mr Mitio, coffee generates about K400 million for the country and was the largest foreign exchange earner in the agriculture sector until only recently when palm oil took over.
Coffee is a sensitive cash crop affecting 400,000 households and more than 2.5 million rural people.
Unlike palm oil where the bulk of the production is derived from estates, PNGs coffee production is from its smallholder farmers who make up 80% of the total 1.1 million bags production output.
The Government is well aware of the contributions the crop has brought for the country and under the National Agriculture Development Plan, has set aside K3 million for pilot coffee rehabilitation in the three Highlands districts of Obura-Wonenara, Anglimp-South Waghi and Kundiawa-Gembogl.